density of ethanol

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Density of Ethanol

These days we often hear of ethanol as an alternative type of fuel that can be mixed into gas to decrease emissions. Let’s find out why ethanol can do that. Ethanol is nothing but alcohol, whose application varies wildly. It can be made out of a variety of plant sources such as corn, sugarcane and grass types.

Since antiquity it has been made through the fermentation of sugars and transformed into wine and beer. It is also used as a solvent for making perfumes, paints, lacquer and explosives. If you’re into chemistry, its formula is CH3CH2OH. The density of ethanol plays a very important role in the way it is used, which varies from psychoactive drug in alcoholic beverages to the aforementioned use as fuel.

Density is by definition the mass per unit of volume. The density of ethanol will depend on the temperature and pressure of surroundings. Alterations in these factors result in change in the volume of the liquid, which in turn results in change in density. When an object floats on water, it density is smaller than the density of water. If it sinks, then its density is higher. It is measured in g/cm3.

In the case of ethanol, the density is 0.789g/cm3 at a temperature of 20°C, which is the accepted density. It will vary as temperature goes down or up. The higher the density of ethanol, the more heat it will produce. As a polar solvent ethanol can subdue the hydrocarbon emissions generated by burning gasoline, hence the environmental advantage of flex fuel vehicles. Although ethanol does offer advantages in terms of less tailpipe emissions, critics say its lifecycle poses serious environmental risks. Besides, ethanol crops offer worrying competition to food crops, which may lead to food price rises.